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If you want to understand the secrets of the fiery arts of passion, consult a lawyer. Sure, we let you think that non-lawyers – lingerie models, Chippendale dancers, rock stars – are the real masters of the bedroom. However, such so-called “laypersons” can never hope to match the ardor and sophistication of a truly zealous advocate.

Thirty-one years ago, this was common knowledge, because one of the hottest manuals on the market describing how to make love to a woman was the book How to Make Love to a Woman, and it was written by attorney Michael Morgenstern. Morgenstern had clerked for a federal judge and then gone on to work for New York white-shoe firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges, so it was only natural for him to think about congress as the next rung on the ladder.

Like any prudent lawyer preparing to write a persuasive document, he conducted extensive research and elicited testimony from hundreds of interested parties before he even began drafting his lengthy memorandum. He hit upon the idea – novel for the time – that he could find out what women liked by asking them. His revolutionary technique elicited unprecedented responses from the women with whom he had intercourse. These responses formed the basis of How to Make Love to a Woman.

Interestingly, responses to the book ran the gamut. Some readers – particularly woman, presumably those who already knew how they liked their lovin’ – complained that the advice in the book was too obvious, except where it was too flimsy to trust. But other readers – particularly young men, desperately anxious to find some key to the unfair mystery of the fairer sex – in other words, the book’s target audience – felt as though they had discovered the Rosetta Stone of Romance. “What? Women like attention, selfless caresses, and languid erotic motion? Who knew?” Well, we lawyers have always known, of course, but Morgenstern was the first of us to share that knowledge pro bono publica.

Michael Morgenstern wrote a couple more guides to romance and relationships over the next few years, before the international attorney cabal forced him to stop giving away our secrets for less than $400 per hour. There were fears that he might spark a wave of arrests of “laypersons” for practicing love without a law license, but that never came to pass, and in fact, after three decades, nowadays people once again think of lawyers as grey mercenary schlubs with no sex appeal. Our secret is safe, and Morgenstern himself stopped publishing books like these in the 1980s and is now a successful personal injury lawyer here in D.C.

Still, what he did for countless clueless men should never be forgotten, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it took a lawyer to do it. Love, like the law, rests on obscure but crucial tidbits of information, usually hidden in plain sight; love, like the law, involves contending with layers and layers of sometimes-conflicting systems of rules, usually by people with no real understanding of the consequences of error; and love, like the law, features parties with competing interests trying to develop enough trust to work together for their common benefit. And how do we teach tyro practitioners to deal with all of these? We give them books.

These books give new law students or young practitioners the same thing that How to Make Love to a Woman gave its inexperienced (or unsuccessful) young readers – a foothold, a place to start the journey with at least a fuzzy view of the surrounding wilderness. People who have learned to navigate the mazes of romance, or jurisprudence, or any of an endless number of other realms of expertise (business, networking, marketing, etc.) might cynically declare such primer material worthless, but the truth such material teaches is in fact valuable to the novice for exactly the same reason it is laughable to the expert: because it is basic and easily grasped. Book learning will only get you so far, but there is nothing wrong with starting off with the basics as long as you don’t stay there for too long.